The Supreme Court of the United States found in favor of Timothy Tyrone Foster, a black man on death row in Georgia. Convicted of killing a white woman in 1987, Foster’s case before the nation’s highest court claimed that he was a victim of racial discrimination at his original trial. SCOTUS agreed in a rare 7-1 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing: “The focus on race in the prosecution’s file plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury.”
What Roberts is referring to when he says “focus on race” is that the prosecution, during jury selection for Foster’s case, sought an all-white jury. Twenty years after the trial, notes were found that showed the prosecution had put a “b” next to the names of black potential jurors. The “b” was essentially a “no” vote in selecting the jury members. You can’t do that, the Supreme Court reaffirmed. Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court’s only African American Justice, was the lone dissenting vote. Foster won not his freedom, but the right to seek a new trial.
[The Supreme Court decision: Foster v. Chapman, Warden]